If you ever wondered how to be a good parent, here’s one important rule to remember: Don’t let your kid break in and vandalize someone’s home. If this advice is coming to you a bit too late, how about at least make your kid realize why their actions were wrong. Or maybe – just maybe – help clean up the destroyed home that your child decided to be so carefree in.
Sadly this type of common-knowledge respect wasn’t given to Brian Holloway Jr., the 18-year-old son of ex-NFL star Brian Holloway, Sr. He learned through twitter that his family’s vacant Stephentown, N.Y. vacation home upstate was being trashed by hundreds of partying teens over Labor Day weekend. He found evidence of broken windows, holes in the wall, and graffiti everywhere . The two realized that the party was being planned days in advance through social networking. All in all, the house suffered about $20,000 worth of damage.
Brian Sr. made it a point to try and identify the teens. Some he knew because they were childhood friends of his son.
“They were classmates, childhood best friends, so it was shocking and disappointing,” Brian Jr. said. “People I know who were at the party contacted me, going on rants… there were no apologies or explanations.”
Brian Sr., who was a lineman for the New England Patriots, figured the best way to handle the situation was to make it public – not only did he repost a few of the party pictures, but he launched a website and Facebook page called Help Me Save 300, serving to not only help identify the kids involved, but help organize volunteers to help rebuild the home. The house destroyed was a family home that had been a part of the Holloway’s lives since 1981, and it was also being used to hold functions and host events.
The parents of several of the young partiers have threatened Brian Sr. with lawsuits and physical harm for publicly outing their kids. Despite the fact that their kids posted evidence of the party on Twitter. And despite the fact that what they did was highly illegal. Some parents even went so far to say that the house was in a destroyed state before the party even happened. So far, nearly 200 of the attendees have been identified.
Brian Sr. has tried to reach out to the teens on his website – in fact, that’s one of the biggest purposes of the site. (“Help Me Save 300″ kids from making these bad decisions for the rest of their lives, if you may.) Here’s one of his statements that he hopes the perpetrators will see:
“I wish I had the ability to have a one on one conversation with each of you. Or at least, chat at Garner’s, or maybe even on the sideline at Berlin soccer games, or at the post office or maybe even Pizza Plus; but I can’t; so my only option was try to reach you by using the web…. So my apologies, I don’t really know what else to do. It’s been quite a gut shot dealing with all of this. I guess I’m still in shock. But I want to aside the very strong emotions I’m feeling and focus on the one thing that is extremely clear the lives of these 300 students. I want them to live. I’ve seen too many young people die because of [excessive] partying, drugs and alcohol.”
When Brian Sr. put out an open invite to clean the house, fifty volunteers came out to help – but only a reported four of those volunteers had been party attendees. He even tried to be approachable about the situation, urging students who attended to donate towards the fight against breast cancer instead of repaying for the damages.
“I was getting ready for school, and my friend called me and said my picture was on the ‘Today Show,” said Ricky Nelson, 16, one of the teens who helped to clean. He and his cousin, who was also at the party, presented an apology note to the Holloway family and also admitted that they feared getting charged with criminal trespassing.
Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Holcomb thinks that the main problem lies within social media. Not only did the kids update their statuses and post pictures throughout the night, but they seemed to do it solely for bragging rights. To them, it was a badge of honor to drink and destroy, and they felt the need to blast this information to the world. This is not the first, nor the last time where teenagers act out of control and think that doing so will only boost their popularity on social network sites.
“What parents are most upset about is the fallout on social media,” he said. “The kids are being threatened via Twitter and on Facebook. As a parent, I say, get them off Twitter, off of Facebook. Send them to their room with a book, not their phones.”
It really makes you think – if nobody is taking accountability for their actions, and their parents first instinct is to sue and bully the victim, what is the world coming to? When will people stop turning a blind eye when these terrible events are being broadcast all over the internet?
Image Credit: John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union (featured), NYPost (basketball), dailymail.co.uk (vandalism, tweets)